Jackson introduces state to Pike County

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 13, 2001

Staff Writer

Just about everyone in Pike County knows Sheila Jackson.

Now, the rest of the state and people across the nation are getting to know her, too.

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Jackson, who was named director of public relations and tourism for the city of Troy and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, recently attended her first statewide tourism conference.

On July 8-10, Jackson learned more about the state she’s always called home and promoted Pike County by talking to people from all over Alabama, plus some from one of the nation’s premiere magazines, "Southern Living."

The topic of this year’s Alabama Tourism Partnership Governor’s Conference in Birmingham was celebrating the state’s diversity by promoting people, places, ideas and experiences.

Travel industry professionals from all over the state gathered at the conference that included workshops on such topics as "How to Build Repeat and Referral Business," "Promoting Your Attractions," "Ask the Meeting Planner," "Special Events ­ Learn from the Pro," "Intrastate Regionalization" and "Awesome and Irresistible Service."

"It was a wonderful conference," Jackson said. "I really learned a lot about our state and am looking forward to promoting Pike County."

With tourism becoming a big economic boost, state tourism officials are promoting a new campaign, "Alabama ­ Now, This You’ve Gotta See!"

Statistics indicate travelers in the state spent a record high of $6.1 billion, last year. That is a 7 percent increase over 1999.

As the state saw a significant increase in the business, Pike County was not immune.

In 1999, tourist expenditures in Pike County were $28.1 million. Last year, that shot up 6.5 percent to almost $30 million, according to figures tallied by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel.

In addition to the dollars, about 137,000 jobs in Alabama are directly and indirectly attributable to the travel and tourism industry.

Pike County also saw an increase in the number of travel-related jobs. More than 40 jobs were added from 1999 to 2000.

Jackson new Pike County was special, but she, now, sees it a bit differently.

"Meeting other people in the industry was a lot of help," Jackson said of the conference, which opened her to ideas about bringing more people into Pike County.

"It really energized me to promote this county."